Careers aren’t linear. They’re Loops.
When is comes to careers, I’m often asked how to pick the right path.
But career are not made of “right” paths or “safe” paths. They full of delightful detours and unexpected obstacles outside of our control.
Knowing this doesn’t make it less scary or less of a struggle to navigate.
You can’t pick the right path for a future that hasn’t been invented yet. But you can build the skills and confidence to take ownership of your path, no matter what the future holds.
The key to career design is the power of micro-projects.
Micro-projects are built on experimentation to help you move quickly, build momentum, and invite the world to help you discover your next move and make it happen.
We call these micro-projects Loops as an invitation to embrace the “loopy” career reality and make it work to your advantage.
In 2012, I co-founded HackCville as an learn-by-doing, ruckus-making, member-led, career accelerator.
HackCville is part club-house and part maker-space imbued with the entrepreneurial mindset. It was here that Looping first started taking shape.
We helped students use small projects to follow their curiosity and cultivate a mindset for resourceful, self-directed learning.
We live in a time of unprecedented access to tools for learning, making, and sharing. HackCville and Looping Method is about learning to use those tools with a mindset to be ready for whatever the future holds.
This year, I’m bringing Looping Method out a long incubation. The mission:
Build an open-source model for transformative career practices that are fun and accessible no matter where you are starting from.
The ethos behind open-sourcing all the tools is twofold:
- Looping is set up so people author new content into the resource library. In this way, we all elevate one another.
- Remove barriers for use. You can use without license or attribution and even for profit.
A Brief Introduction To Making A Loop
Looping Method is a framework for designing micro-projects built on small experiments to discover you next steps and craft smart moves to make it happen.
All together, these practices dramatically boost your confidence.
We lean on following your curiosity (rather than knowing your passion), cultivating a growth mindset, building your imagination and maker muscles, and observing jobs to be done (learning to create value).
The Four Steps
Step 1. Clarify
To start a Loop, you have to first Clarify the challenge you want to solve for.
This step includes unique exercises designed to reveal and reflect on what you need and what obstacles are in the way.
You are not trying to solve for everything all at once. Looping is a continual practice. Finishing one Loop gives you insights to propel you into the next Loop, like a roller coaster, to build on your new momentum.
Clarifying is about getting specific about what you need or what obstacle is in your way.
Starting is more important than being right.
For example, “get a new job” is too broad of a challenge. What kind of role? What industry? What career gaps are in the way?
Let’s say you are interested in UX careers. Someone considering a new path might ask:
How might I learn if UX roles are a good fit for me and the impact I want to have through my work?
The “impact” here could then be defined to better focus the possible solutions in the next step.
If the direction toward UX careers feel like a good fit, a followup question might focus on skills:
How might I learn about the UX skills I need to develop so that I can transition into design roles?
Let’s say you have direction, skills and some potential employers picked out. You might ask:
How might I connect with a company I’m excited about so that I can position myself to join the team, even though they don’t have open positions?
Step 2. Create
The Create step is about generating ways you might solve your challenge through a micro-project.
Create can be many things; digital, tactile, or experiential.
- You might Create a convening by hosting a dinner party.
- You might Create a job shadow opportunity and document what you learned.
- You might Create a portfolio by picking a company you want to work with and doing the job you wish you had.
Come bearing gifts and the world will give you gifts in return.
If you get stuck on this, or any step, Looping includes fun drills to surface new thinking for overcoming obstacles.
To make sure we start quickly and avoid losing momentum, we use the ‘smallify’ test to ask how we might reduce the effort and time to complete the Create step.
For example, writing a book can smallify to writing a blog post and further smallify to writing a bullet list draft for that post.
Step 3. Connect
What you Create must Connect with real people other than your best friend.
Often times, connecting with people is inherent to what you Create. Other times you will have to challenge yourself to not work in isolation.
This step is crucial because we know more than me → you have limited knowledge and connecting helps you close it.
And finally, connecting is the invitation for serendipity. When you leave a trail of what you created, you invite others to discover you. This shifts your career journey to inbound opportunities.
Step 4. Consider
A completed Loop will give you new insights to inform your next moves.
Pause to consider what you learned and how you might refine your challenge and then restart the Looping process.
You can’t think your way into a great career.
Micro-projects are the key to getting out of your head and inviting the world to help you discover your next move and make it happen.
Looping is not limited to career changes. It is a framework you can use at any stage, in any position, of your career. You might love the company you are with and want to continue learning and bringing your best self to work.